Report: WhatsApp, Skype Face Tighter EU Regulations

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Apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger might soon face tougher regulations in Europe.

As Reuters and the Financial Times report, the European Commission wants to extend traditional telecom rules to companies offering calls and messages over the Web, like Microsoft's Skype.

Popular carriers like Deutsche Telekom AG, Telefónica SA, Vodafone, and Orange have lobbied the EU to repeal certain laws governing telecoms. Otherwise, they argue, the EU should at least broaden its rules to cover Internet-based services.

The EU's current "ePrivacy Directive," which applies to telecom firms, requires companies to protect users' communications and ensure network security, Reuters says. It also bars carriers from storing customer location and traffic data.

Facebook has rolled out end-to-end encryption for WhatsApp and Messenger, which it says could be compromised under the EU's plan. They tell Reuters that individual organizations would "no longer be able to guarantee the security and confidentiality of the communication through encryption," because governments can take control in the name of national security.

"Therefore, any expansion of the current ePD (ePrivacy Directive) should not have the undesired consequence of undermining the very privacy it is seeking to protect," Facebook told Reuters.

A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment to PCMag; WhatsApp, Microsoft, and the European Commission did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to the FT, the rules would apply to services that require users to dial a phone number; Skype-to-Skype calls would not be included.

The draft policy paper—seen recently by Reuters—is due out in September.

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